CA2669316C - Item tracking system - Google Patents

Item tracking system Download PDF

Info

Publication number
CA2669316C
CA2669316C CA2669316A CA2669316A CA2669316C CA 2669316 C CA2669316 C CA 2669316C CA 2669316 A CA2669316 A CA 2669316A CA 2669316 A CA2669316 A CA 2669316A CA 2669316 C CA2669316 C CA 2669316C
Authority
CA
Canada
Prior art keywords
item
id
information
user
tool
Prior art date
Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Active
Application number
CA2669316A
Other languages
French (fr)
Other versions
CA2669316A1 (en
Inventor
Eduardo Ruiz-Esparza-Flores
Jose-Adalberto Teran-Matus
Rafael Guillermo Ramos Elizondo
Patricio Gerardo Trevino Ramirez
Current Assignee (The listed assignees may be inaccurate. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the list.)
RFID Mexico de C V SA
Original Assignee
RFID Mexico de C V SA
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Priority to US11/580,006 priority Critical
Priority to US11/580,006 priority patent/US7557709B2/en
Priority to US11/856,869 priority
Priority to US11/856,869 priority patent/US7932824B2/en
Application filed by RFID Mexico de C V SA filed Critical RFID Mexico de C V SA
Priority to PCT/MX2007/000116 priority patent/WO2008044909A1/en
Publication of CA2669316A1 publication Critical patent/CA2669316A1/en
Application granted granted Critical
Publication of CA2669316C publication Critical patent/CA2669316C/en
Application status is Active legal-status Critical
Anticipated expiration legal-status Critical

Links

Classifications

    • GPHYSICS
    • G08SIGNALLING
    • G08BSIGNALLING OR CALLING SYSTEMS; ORDER TELEGRAPHS; ALARM SYSTEMS
    • G08B13/00Burglar, theft or intruder alarms
    • G08B13/22Electrical actuation
    • G08B13/24Electrical actuation by interference with electromagnetic field distribution
    • G08B13/2402Electronic Article Surveillance [EAS], i.e. systems using tags for detecting removal of a tagged item from a secure area, e.g. tags for detecting shoplifting
    • G08B13/2451Specific applications combined with EAS
    • G08B13/2457Lending systems using EAS tags wherein the tags are reusable, e.g. they can be activated and deactivated more than once, e.g. for a library
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B25HAND TOOLS; PORTABLE POWER-DRIVEN TOOLS; MANIPULATORS
    • B25HWORKSHOP EQUIPMENT, e.g. FOR MARKING-OUT WORK; STORAGE MEANS FOR WORKSHOPS
    • B25H3/00Storage means or arrangements for workshops facilitating access to, or handling of, work tools or instruments
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06QDATA PROCESSING SYSTEMS OR METHODS, SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES; SYSTEMS OR METHODS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • G06Q10/00Administration; Management
    • G06Q10/08Logistics, e.g. warehousing, loading, distribution or shipping; Inventory or stock management, e.g. order filling, procurement or balancing against orders
    • G06Q10/087Inventory or stock management, e.g. order filling, procurement, balancing against orders
    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07FCOIN-FREED OR LIKE APPARATUS
    • G07F9/00Details other than those peculiar to special kinds or types of apparatus
    • G07F9/02Devices for alarm or indication, e.g. when empty; Advertising arrangements in coin-freed apparatus
    • G07F9/026Devices for alarm or indication, e.g. when empty; Advertising arrangements in coin-freed apparatus for alarm, monitoring and auditing in vending machines or means for indication, e.g. when empty
    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07GREGISTERING THE RECEIPT OF CASH, VALUABLES, OR TOKENS
    • G07G1/00Cash registers
    • G07G1/0036Checkout procedures
    • G07G1/0045Checkout procedures with a code reader for reading of an identifying code of the article to be registered, e.g. barcode reader or radio-frequency identity [RFID] reader
    • G07G1/009Checkout procedures with a code reader for reading of an identifying code of the article to be registered, e.g. barcode reader or radio-frequency identity [RFID] reader the reader being an RFID reader
    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07CTIME OR ATTENDANCE REGISTERS; REGISTERING OR INDICATING THE WORKING OF MACHINES; GENERATING RANDOM NUMBERS; VOTING OR LOTTERY APPARATUS; ARRANGEMENTS, SYSTEMS OR APPARATUS FOR CHECKING NOT PROVIDED FOR ELSEWHERE
    • G07C11/00Arrangements, systems, or apparatus for checking, e.g. the occurrence of a condition, not provided for elsewhere
    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07CTIME OR ATTENDANCE REGISTERS; REGISTERING OR INDICATING THE WORKING OF MACHINES; GENERATING RANDOM NUMBERS; VOTING OR LOTTERY APPARATUS; ARRANGEMENTS, SYSTEMS OR APPARATUS FOR CHECKING NOT PROVIDED FOR ELSEWHERE
    • G07C9/00Individual entry or exit registers
    • G07C9/00007Access-control involving the use of a pass
    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07CTIME OR ATTENDANCE REGISTERS; REGISTERING OR INDICATING THE WORKING OF MACHINES; GENERATING RANDOM NUMBERS; VOTING OR LOTTERY APPARATUS; ARRANGEMENTS, SYSTEMS OR APPARATUS FOR CHECKING NOT PROVIDED FOR ELSEWHERE
    • G07C9/00Individual entry or exit registers
    • G07C9/00174Electronically operated locks; Circuits therefor; Nonmechanical keys therefor, e.g. passive or active electrical keys or other data carriers without mechanical keys
    • G07C9/00896Electronically operated locks; Circuits therefor; Nonmechanical keys therefor, e.g. passive or active electrical keys or other data carriers without mechanical keys specially adapted for particular uses
    • G07C9/00912Electronically operated locks; Circuits therefor; Nonmechanical keys therefor, e.g. passive or active electrical keys or other data carriers without mechanical keys specially adapted for particular uses for safes, strong-rooms, vaults or the like

Abstract

The invention relates to an item monitoring system and method which use RFID technology for the automatic monitoring of operations involving items being taken from and returned to one or more storage positions in a work area and which can be used to maintain an online status and use history record for each item. In addition, the system can automatically recognise every operation in which an item is taken and automatically record said operations, associating the item identification data with information relating to the storage position thereof, the user who took or returned the item to or from the storage position and the date and time of the operation. The system can also compile the aforementioned information in one or more databases and said databases can synchronise all of the information contained therein in order to manage same, report and transmit alarms, monitor the use of items, monitor the upkeep of items (such as maintenance, calibration or replacement) and generate statistics relating to the use of each item.

Description

ITEM TRACKING SYSTEM
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION.
A. FIELD OF THE INVENTION.
The present invention is related to systems for tracking and controlling items inside a predetermined area and more particularly to an item tracking system for controlling the lending and returning of items assigned to predetermined storing locations inside a working area by the workers.
B. DESCRIPTION OF THE RELATED ART.
In certain working places such as aeronautics workshops, it is critical to keep an extremely clean and safe environment, since any object, even small ones, can get lost and end inside an engine or turbine for example, which can be disastrous during testing or operation of the engine, damaging the engine and/or causing a serious problem in the aircraft during flight.
The above referred problem gets worse in a workshop where many tools and instruments are used by many people for maintenance operations and where said tools can eventually get lost and become a FOD (Foreign Object Damage or Foreign Object Debris).
Some times, when a tool gets lost, it is necessary to stop all the operations in the workshop until the tool is found, if it is even found, causing serious problems, costs and delays in the workshop and serious problems to the aircraft operator which lost precious time and money, not mentioning the risk of delivering an aircraft with a potential fatal problem.
In addition, it might happen that one worker could take by accident someone else's tool, alike to the one he has, and then leave that tool somewhere else; causing the people who are looking for the lost tool to waste a lot of time in the wrong place, which involves a great risk since the lost tool may cause a fatal accident if it is not found.
U.S. patent application No. 20070023193 discloses an inventory control system for monitoring the removal and replacement of tools including a container having a plurality of tool storage locations in the form of recesses.
Each recess is individually-shaped to receive a specific tool, the shape of the recess being matched to the shape of the tool. A plurality of sensors are provided for sensing the presence of tools in the recesses, each sensor being located adjacent a recesses. A data processor receives signals from the sensing means and monitors the removal and replacement of tools, and an output device indicates the presence and/or absence of tools in the container.

The sensors disclosed in the application may be magnetic sensors, optical sensors or magnetic switches which only detects when a tool has been replaced or removed from the storage locations, and since the system has not means to obtain information about the tool taken it can not check which tool has been taken or that the correct tool has been placed in each recess. In fact, since in the embodiment described in the patent application, the detectors are simple magnetic detectors, it would be easy to mislead the detection system, for example by placing a steel bolt in one of the recesses instead of the correct tool.
Therefore, the main aim of the system is only to ensure that trusted personnel do not accidentally forget to return tools to the container after use.
U.S. Patent 7,209,041 discloses mobile method and system for automatically monitoring the location and use of tools using radio-frequency identification ("RFID") tags. An RFID tag is secured to each tool with a unique numerical identifier. The RFID tag transmits its unique numerical identifier associated with each of the RFID tags using a RF signal, wherein the RF signal is transmitted at different intervals for each of the RFID tags. A receiver on a mobile platform reads the RF signals and determines the unique numerical identifier being transmitted. An information processor interconnected with the receiver analyzes the unique numerical identifier from a predetermined index, and the information processor determines whether any tools were not found on the index and automatically alerts a user when a tool is missing. The system makes use of self powered RFID active transmitters associated with each tool, and therefore, if the power source for one of the RFID active transmitter fails, the system will fail to control the respective tool. Furthermore, since the patent dose not disclose that the system includes means for identifying the users, it is not possible to relate a tool taking operation with the correspondent user, and therefore the taken and returning operations can not be fully controlled.
In view of the above referred problems, applicant developed a An item tracking system which makes use RFID technology for automatically monitoring the taking and returning operations of items from one or more storage locations inside a working area which allows to have an "on line" status of each tool as

2 well as the using history of each tool, furthermore, the system "knows" which item has been taken or stored from which storage area by which worker and when, and synchronize and compile the information of all storage locations in one database and system for administering, reporting and sending alarms in order to have total tool control, accountability, tools service control (maintenance, calibration, repairs, and/or replacement), and administration of usage for the tools controlled by the system.
Applicant's system comprises: a plurality of user identification means using technologies such as and not limited to RFID and Bar Code; or fingerprint, each assigned to a respective user, each having personalized identification information recorded such as user name and/or user ID; a plurality of administrator, users and personnel of maintenance identification cards, each assigned to a respective user with respective privileges, each having personalized identification information recorded such as name and/or ID; a plurality of toolboxes, each having: a computer (processor, memory, user interfaces devices such as keyboard -optional-, touch screen -optional-, mouse -optional-, display -optional-, buzzers -optional-, speakers -optional-, communication interface such as cable network, wireless and/or portable memory), including a database, wherein the database of each toolbox's computer contains at least the following information: tools assigned to the respective toolbox and its position inside the toolbox; tools taken from the respective toolbox; tools returned to the respective toolbox and tool's status for presence or absence, services required, historic usages of the tools;
automatic locking and unlocking means for each drawer controlled by the data processing and control system; a plurality of readable/writable RFID chips, each permanently joined to a respective tool; a plurality of RFID chip interrogators/scanners/sensors (called sensors) with capability to read and or save information into the RFID chip of each tool, each assigned to a respective storage location of a respective toolbox for specifically interrogating/scanning a respective RFID chip of one tool (this means a relation of one sensor per tool), each interrogator/scanner connected to the computer (directly or thought electronic circuits); wherein the computer of each toolbox is capable of controlling and registering the following functions: tool taking operations;
tool returning operations; control of tools taken for several days (TDY: Temporary

3 Duty); control of tools needing service; control of unserviceable tools;
control of cases or containers containing inside or over multiple items usually small tools (this functionality of controlling containers with tools inside is called in this document "Critical Items"); and wherein the computer of each toolbox is capable of synchronizing information with the server system.
With applicant's system it is possible to have a tight control over each tool and an immediate control over taking and returning operations.
Furthermore, applicant's system allows having a Real Time (RT) status of each tool, the using history of each tool, control of the tools needing service, record of the usage of each tool among other functionalities.
Since the system links each operation with a respective worker and record on every RFID chip place on every tool the worker id, date and time of taking the tool, it is almost impossible to lose any tool and returning a different tool, since the system would detect that said tool is related to other employee. A
skilled in the art may suggest that the RFID tag may be easily retired from the tool and attached to other tool, but applicant's system requires that each RFID
tag be attached to the tool by means of special substances already available in the market which practically "integrates" the RFID tag to the tool in such way that if someone tries to detach it from the tool, the possibilities that the RFID tag is damaged are very high, thus avoiding fraudulent practices.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION.
It is therefore a main object of the present invention to provide an item tracking system which makes use of RFID technology for automatically monitoring the taking and returning operations of items from a storage location inside a working area.
It is another main object of the present invention to provide an item tracking system of the above referred nature which allows having a Real Time (RT) status of each tool, the using history of each tool, control of the tools needing service, record of the usage of each tool among other functionalities.
It is a further object of the present invention to provide an item tracking system of the above referred nature, which links each operation with a respective worker and record on every RFID chip place on every tool the worker id, date and time of taking the tool, links each operation with a respective

4 worker, thus maintaining a register of which tools are being used by each worker.
It is an additional object of the present invention to provide an item tracking system of the above referred nature which avoids that a worker returns any tool not corresponding to the tool the system registered as originally taken by the worker or returning the tool to a different place from where it was taken.
It is an additional object of the present invention to provide an item tracking system of the above referred nature which allow a user to read the information recorded in the chip on every tool in a remote location using a reader connected to a conventional computer or portable terminal.
In one embodiment of the present invention, there is provided an item tracking system for using in a working area having a plurality of storage boxes each having a plurality of drawers each including a plurality of item storage locations, each item storage location comprising an individually shaped recess for receiving a specific item which can be taken or returned, wherein the shape of the recess matches to the shape of the item, wherein the items can be taken and returned to a storage location by means of a taking and returning operation, the item tracking system comprising: a plurality of user identification means; the plurality of storage boxes, each having a computer, including a database, and user identification reader means for reading the user identification means; a plurality of readable/writable electronic means, each joined to a respective item and having item information; an external computer system having a database and connected to a computer network, wherein the external computer is capable of interchanging information with each computer of each storage box and vice versa for the synchronizing of information between them, providing reports including information about the items controlled by the system and information about system operations; and a plurality of interrogators/scanners, each located on a respective storage location of a respective drawer of a respective storage box for specifically interrogating/scanning a respective electronic means of one item, each interrogator/scanner being connected to the computer of the respective storage box.
These and other objects and advantages of the physical inventory auditor system of the present invention will become apparent to those persons having an

5 ordinary skill in the art, from the following detailed description of the embodiments of the invention which will be made with reference to the accompanying drawings.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS.
Figure 1 shows a scheme of the item tracking system of the present invention in accordance with a first embodiment thereof.
Figure 2 shows a scheme of one of the drawers of a toolbox of the item tracking system of the present invention in accordance with a first embodiment thereof.
Figure 3, shows a scheme of the item tracking system of the present invention in accordance with a second embodiment thereof.
Figure 4 shows a scheme of one of the drawers of a toolbox of the item tracking system of the present invention in accordance with a second embodiment thereof.
Figure 5 comprises a flow chart of a taking operation in accordance with a second embodiment of the present invention.
Figure 6 comprises a flow chart of a returning operation in accordance with a second embodiment of the present invention.
Figure 7 comprises the continuation of the flow chart of Figure 6.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION.
The item tracking system of the present invention will be described making reference to the accompanying drawings.
5a In first embodiment, and making reference to figures 1 and 2, the item tracking system of the present invention is used in a working area having a plurality of toolboxes 1 each having a plurality of drawers 2 each including a plurality of receptacles for storing a correspondent tool 3, wherein the item tracking system of the present invention comprising:
a plurality of toolboxes 1, each having automatic locking and unlocking means (not shown) for each drawer 2 controlled by an electronic system (not shown):
a plurality of RFID chips 4 for user identification each assigned to a respective user and each having personal identification information recorded such as user name, user ID, working area and user profiles;
a plurality of RFID tool identification chips 5, each joined to a respective tool 3, each including tool identification information such as: tool identification ID, drawer ID of the toolbox in which the tool is stored, toolbox ID in which the tool is stored;
one or more user identification RFID chip readers 6, each assigned to a respective toolbox 1;
one or more tool identification RFID chip readers 7, each assigned to a respective receptacle of a respective drawer 2 of a respective toolbox 1 for reading a respective tool identification RFID chip 12;
a control system 8 for each toolbox, connecting the electronic system, each user identification RFID chip readers 6, and each tool identification RFID
chip readers 7, having:
memory means storing information such as:
description of each tool stored in the respective toolbox related to a correspondent tool ID;
description of each user that is allowed to access the toolbox related to a correspondent user ID;
information about access privileges for each user, which sets forth the drawers of the respective toolbox that a correspondent user is allowed to access and take one or more tools, in such way that the user ID is related to one or more toolbox IDs and with one or more drawer Ds of correspondent toolboxes that the user can access;

6 information about the tools 3 stored in each receptacle of each drawer 2 of the respective toolbox 1 , in such way that a tool ID is related to a receptacle ID, drawer ID and toolbox ID;
information about the usage history of each tool by each user in the toolbox 1, in such way that each tool ID is related to a plurality of specific times and dates in which a specific tool was taken or returned to its correspondent receptacle;
information about tool taken and returning operations such as:
tools that have been taken from its correspondent receptacle by a specific user at a specific time and date comprising information such as: tool IDs associated to user IDs, toolbox ID, drawer ID, receptacle ID and specific times and dates in which the tools were taken by the users;
tools that have been taken and returned to its respective receptacles by an user at specific times and dates comprising information such as: tools IDs associated to user Ds , toolbox ID, drawer ID, receptacle ID and specific times and dates in which the tools were returned by the users wherein the user identification RFID chip readers 6 read a user identification RFID chip 4 when said chip is in a reading range from said user identification RFID chip readers 6 and wherein the information obtained from the user identification RFID chip 4 is sent to the control system 8 which send a signal to the locking and unlocking means electronic system for unlocking one or more drawers 2 based on the user privilege information;
wherein the tool identification RFID chip readers 7 detect when a tool 3 is being taken from its respective receptacle and read the information recorded in the tool identification RFID chip 5 which is sent together with the correspondent toolbox ID to the control system 8 of the respective toolbox 1 which registers and records the taking operation in the memory means with information such as:

ID of the tool 3 that was taken, the ID of the user that took the tool, the ID
of the toolbox 1, ID of drawer 2 and ID of the receptacle from which the tool 3 was took and the time and date of the taking operation;
wherein the tool identification RFID chip readers 7 detect when a tool 3 is being returned to its respective receptacle and read the information recorded in

7 the tool identification RFID chip 5 which is sent together with the correspondent toolbox 10 to the control system 8 of the respective toolbox 1 which registers and records the returning operation in the memory means with information such as: ID of the tool 3 that was returned, the ID of the user that returned the tool, the ID of the toolbox 1, ID of drawer 2 and ID of the receptacle to which the tool 3 was returned and the time and date of the returning operation;
wherein the control system of each toolbox 1 can interchange the information stored in their memory means with the information stored in the memory means of a central control system.
Each RFID tool identification chips 5 is attached to a correspondent tool by means of an adherent substance, in such way that the chip is destroyed when detached from the tool.
Furthermore, the control system 8 of each toolbox 1 and the central control system can display or send notifications to an administrator about any inconsistencies such as when a user is trying to return a tool 3 that is not registered in the memory means of a correspondent toolbox or that was taken by another user.
Additionally, the control system 8 of each toolbox 1 and the central control system can be programmed for generating an alert if an user do not return a specific tool during a predetermined period of time.
Although in the above described embodiment it is described that the item tracking system of the present invention is used in a workshop environment, it can be used in any place where there is a need to control a plurality of items inside a working area, for example an hospital, where it is necessary maintain control over medicines.
In a second preferred modality, the item tracking system of the present invention is used in a workshop environment having a plurality of toolboxes 1' each having a plurality of drawers 2' each including a plurality of receptacles for storing a correspondent tool 3', each receptacle comprising an individually shaped recess for receiving a specific tool 4 which can be taken or returned, wherein the shape of the recess matches to the shape of the tool or container.

Making reference to Figures 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7, the item tracking system of the present invention comprising:

8 a plurality of user identification cards (not shown) using technologies such as and not limited to RFID, Bar Code and fingerprint, each assigned to a respective user and each having personalized identification information recorded such as user name and/or user ID and user profiles selected from the group comprising normal user, administrator and maintenance;
a plurality of toolboxes 1, each having:
a computer 5', each computer 5', including a database, a screen for displaying data 6' and a user identification card reader 7' for reading the user/administrator/maintenance person identification cards and further including a memory card reader/writer 8, an RFID chip reader 9, and a physical user interface 10 comprising a plurality of buttons for programming and controlling the computer 5', wherein the database of each toolbox's computer contains the following information:
users authorized to access each tool box, drawers accessible to each user in each tool box and privilege type which is selected from the group comprising: user of tools, administrator and maintenance person;
tools assigned to the respective toolbox represented by the following data: Tool description, Tool ID, toolbox ID, drawer ID, storage location ID (pocket);
tools taken from the respective toolbox, represented by the following data User name, privilege type, tool description, Tool ID, toolbox ID, drawer ID, storage location ID, date and time of the taking operation;
tools returned to a respective toolbox before any new taking operation is performed represented by the following data: User name, privilege type, tool description, Tool ID, toolbox ID, drawer ID, storage location ID, date and time of the returning operation;
tool's status (including alarm status which will be explained later): user who changed status, privilege type, Tool description, Tool ID, toolbox ID, drawer ID, storage location ID, status, date and time of the change of status operation.

9 automatic locking and unlocking means 11 for each drawer controlled by the' computer 5' each including a sensor (not shown) for detecting when the drawer is opened or closed;
a plurality of readable/writable RFID chips 12, each permanently joined to a respective tool by means of an adherent substance, so that if someone tries to detach the RFID chip, it may be damaged, each having the following memory types:
memory type #1: the information contained in this type of memory is permanently recorded in the chip: tool ID, tool description and serial number;
memory type #2: the information contained in this type of memory can only be modified by an authorized person which is assigned by an administrator, by entering a password in either the toolbox's computer or from a computer with a sensor accessing the functionality to change it: ID of the company that owns the tool, company branch ID, toolbox ID (CTK number), and optionally:
toolbox drawer ID and storage location ID (pocket) to which the tool and toolbox are assigned, memory type #3 the information contained in this type of memory is recorded in the chips of every tool stored in the drawers of a respective toolbox to which an user has rights to access, every time said user logs in to the system (which will be explained later) said information comprising the user ID and current time and date;
and further including a tool log which may be limited to a certain amount of records, including information about the user ID
of the last users of the tool and the time and date in which the tool was taken and returned. The number of records can be configured by an administrator;
a plurality of RFID chip interrogators/scanners 13, each assigned to a respective receptacle of a respective drawer 2' of a respective toolbox 1' for specifically interrogating/scanning a respective RFID chip 12 of one tool 4', each interrogator/scanner 13 connected to the computer 5';

a plurality of RFID chip recorders (not shown) each assigned to a respective storage location 3' of a respective drawer 2' of a respective toolbox 1' for specifically recording a respective RFID chip 12 of one tool 4' with the information described above for memory type 1, 2, and 3 including: user ID, time and date of the taken operation, and for updating the tool log, each RFID chip recorder connected to the computer 5';
a server system 14 connected to a computer network having a database containing information related to:
tools assigned to each toolbox represented by the following data: Tool description, Tool ID, toolbox ID, and optionally drawer ID, and storage location ID;
tools taken from each toolbox, represented by the following data User name, tool description, Tool ID, toolbox ID, drawer ID, storage location ID, date and time of the taken operation;
tools returned to each toolbox before any new taking operation is performed: User name, tool description, Tool ID, toolbox ID, drawer ID, storage location ID, date and time of the taken operation;
tool's status (including alarm status which will be explained later):
user who changed status, Tool description, Tool ID, toolbox ID, drawer ID, storage location ID, status, date and time of the change of status operation.
User profiles.
As previously explained there are three predetermined user profiles each having the following privileges:
= The "normal user" profile allows a person to take and return tools from one or more toolboxes 1' and to enter reports in the system as will be explained later;
= The administrator profile allows a person to: take and return tools, from one or more toolboxes, configure privileges for other users, configure user access capabilities which indicates the system which drawers of a toolbox a user is authorized to access, to authorize certain user operations such as to change the status of a tool to TDY
status (which will be explained later) and to modify the information of the databases of server system 14 and of the toolboxes computers 5';
and = The maintenance profile allows a person to take and return tools having a status "needing calibration" or "unserviceable" which will be explained later and to enter into the system reports related to the type of work performed to the tools like repair, maintenance or calibration, replaced.
However the privileges for the above referred profiles can be modified by an administrator, and new custom profiles can be created for a single user or a group of users as will be explained later.
Standby mode The standby time comprises the periods during which no one is logged into the computer's toolbox 5. During standby time all drawers 2 remain closed and locked, and each RFID chip interrogator/scanner 13 located on every receptacle 3' of each drawer 2' corresponding to every tool 4 is inactive.
However, the computer's RFID chip reader 9, which is located outside the drawers 2' of the toolbox 1', may be used by any person who wants to obtain the information of any tool controlled by the system without having to login, by just pressing a button in the computer's physical user interface 10 in order to activate the RFID chip reader 9, and read the information stored in a tool's chip 12. The reader information is presented in the screen 6', said information comprising the information described for memory type 1, 2, and 3 including: Company Id, branch ID, tool description, the ID of the user who last used the tool as well as the date and time when it was last used, toolbox ID
drawer ID, and receptacle ID where the tool belongs. Depending on the needs of an administrator, the information stored in the toolbox's computer 5 database could be presented in the display 6 in addition to the information read from the tool's chip 4'.
It should be noted that additionally, the information recorded in the chips 4' on every tool 5' or case can be read using an external computer, laptop, mobile device, PDA, with a sensor connected.
Taking operations The toolbox computer display 6' normally presents a welcome screen showing a color shade selected from the group comprising blue, green, black, white or any other choice of color configurable by the administrator indicating that no tools 4' are missing from the toolbox 1', this means that all tools belonging to this toolboxes are in their proper pockets 3' not considering the ones out for service (like maintenance, calibration or repair) or the ones taken out as TDY, as will be explained later. When the welcome screen shows a red shade, it indicates that the toolbox is missing at least one tool not considering the ones out for service (like maintenance, calibration or repair) or the ones taken out as TDY.
When a user needs to take a tool from one of the toolboxes 1' (to initiate a taking operation), the user has to identify himself by passing the user identification card near the user identification card reader 7' of a respective toolbox (logging in). Then the user identification card reader reads the user ID
from the user identification card, and the toolbox's computer 5' searches said user ID in its database which contains the user ID's authorized to access said specific toolbox. If the user ID is not found in said database, then the user is informed that he/she is no authorized to access said specific toolbox by displaying a message box in the display 6' showing the message "User Not Authorized".
If the computer 5' finds the user ID in its database of authorized users, it then searches the user profile and privileges for said user profile which define the actions he/she is allowed to perform and the user access capabilities, which define the drawer ID to which the user is authorized to access. Once the user has logged in and the privilege type and user access capabilities defined for the user, the information for memory type #3 (current user logged into the system as well as current date and time) is recorded in the chips 12 of every tool 4' stored in the drawers 2' of a respective toolbox 1' to which the user has the right to access and subsequently the computer 5 sends a signal to the correspondent locking and unlocking means 11 of the specific drawers 2' for unlocking the drawers 2' that the user is authorized to access. Also the computer 5' searches in its database for any tools related to the user ID that need to be returned to the toolbox 1' if any.
Once the recording of the chips 12 ends, each one of the RFID chip interrogators/scanners 13 of each receptacle 3' located in each unlocked drawer 2' begin to interrogate the correspondent tool RFID 12 more than one time per second which in the preferred embodiment could be ten times per second, and the Tool ID of each tool 4' is sent to the computer for comparing the list of the Tool ID's detected with a database list of the tool ID's currently assigned to the respective drawers 2' for detecting when a tool is retired from the receptacle 3'. It should be noted that the RFID chip interrogators/scanners 13 can interrogate the RFID chips 12 more than ten times per second.
Then, the display 6' presents a screen displaying the day, date, name of the user and a list of the tools that the user has already taken and that need to be returned. In case that the user has not taken any tool from the specific toolbox, then the list will be empty.
When the user opens a drawer 2, the correspondent sensor for detecting when the drawer is opened or closed, detects the action and sends a signal to the computer 5, which records this information into a log file When the user retires a tool 4' from a receptacle 3', the correspondent RFID interrogator/scanner/sensor 13 fails to receive the information of said tool 4' and when the toolbox's computer 5' compares the list of the tool ID's detected by the interrogators/scanners 13 with the database list of the tools ID's currently assigned to the respective drawers 2', the comparison operation of the tool ID that the user has just taken will fail and the computer 5' will then acknowledge the taken operation of the specific tool. It must be noted that the above process takes only a fraction of a second, thus the taken operation is registered in real time by the computer. Once the computer acknowledges the taken operation, the operation is recorded in the database by recording the name of the user, user ID, tool ID and the hour and date in which the tool 4 has taken and presents in the display 6' the information of the action including and not limited to the tool description, drawer 2' where is was taken from, pocket 3' where it was taken from, current date/time. In case the tool need service, this information is displayed in a different color and will not allow the user to logoff without returning such tool to its original pocket 3' as will be explained later.
The above referred process is repeated each time the user takes a tool 4' from a receptacle 3', and each time the user takes a tool 4, the operation is displayed in the screen 6', by means of a list indicating the tool ID and description and the current hour and date.

In case the user needs a tool 4' that is not stored in the toolbox 1' in such moment, he/she will have the option to press a button in the computer's interface 10 to register his/her need, so that the administrators of the system can take appropriate actions such as buying more of such specific tools.
If the user takes a tool in error, she/he only has to place it back again to the pocket 3' where it was originally placed and it will disappear from the list at the display 6', which basically comprises a returning operation as will be explained later.
When the user wants to end the taking operation, he/she can review the list of tools presented in the display to make sure it matches with the ones he/she has taken out. In case she/he finds a discrepancy, it is necessary to verify that the tool indicated as taken is placed properly into the right pocket 3'.
If it is found that there is still an error, she/he will have to call a person having an administrator privilege type in order to notify the discrepancy. Otherwise, if there are errors he/she must close all the drawers 2' and push a button in the computer interface 10 thus indicating that he/she wants to end the taking operation (log out). When the computer 5' receives said instructions, it checks first for any open drawer 2' by means of the sensors of the locking and unlocking means 11 and shows an alert in the display 6' if some of the drawers 2' are open. When the computer detects that all the drawers 2' are closed, it locks all the drawers 2', the screen 6' changes to the welcome screen and the color shade is set to red indicating that at least one tool 4' is missing from the toolbox 1'.
It should be noted that as soon as the taken operation ends, the computer 5 will send this information automatically to the Server System 14 if it exist real time connection like and not limited to Wi-Fi or Network cable for synchronizing the information among the information of other toolboxes 1' for real time alarms and reports as will be explained later.
If a user wants to take the tools for more than one day (or shift), he/she has to start the taking operation with no tools owed. This means that if the user has tools pending for return at the moment of login and or she/he takes more tools out and/or return some others without cleaning all tools that he/she was owing since the beginning, the system will show a message staying that the user must return all tools owed and clean completely the whole list before taking the ones he/she wants to take for more than one day.
Once this condition is fulfilled, the user would be able to take the tools needed for more than one day and then push a "TDY" (Temporary Duty) button in the manual interface 10, which will request the computer 5' to change the status of the tool or tools to TDY, which means that said tool or tools will be taken for more than one day. Then the system will request a person having an administrator privilege to pass his/her ID card into the reader 7 for allowing the computer 5' to change the status of the tool or tools to TDY status and an icon will appear for such tools indicating the TDY status.
In case a user having tools in TDY status, login to take out more tools, he/she will not be requested to return all tools before taking those out as she/he has already tools having a TDY status, but the administrator id card will be still requested to increase the number of tools with TDY status, otherwise the computer 5' will not allow to logoff until either not authorized tools for TDY
are returned or the administrator authorizes the TDY status for the additional tools.
Messages indicating these reasons are always displayed. A user will be allowed to return only some tools on TDY status but an alarm will be set.
As previously explained, a person having an administrator privilege type is allowed to authorize certain users to change the status of a tool to TDY
without needing administrator authorization.
The flow chart of figure 5 shows the above described taking operation. It has to be understood that the order of the steps of the taking operation described above and represented by the flow chart of figure 3, may be changed without altering the functionality of the Item tracking system of the present invention.
Returning operations.
As previously described, when at least one tool 4' is missing from the toolbox 1, the welcome screen will show a red shade.
When a user needs to return a tool 4' to one of the toolboxes 1' (to initiate a returning operation), the user has to login by passing the user identification card near the user identification card reader 7' of a respective toolbox 1'. Then the user identification card reader 7' reads the user ID from the user identification card and the toolbox's computer 5' searches said user ID

in its database which contains the user ID's authorized to access said specific toolbox 1'. lf, for some reason, the user ID is not found in said database, then the user is informed that he/she is no authorized to access said specific toolbox 1' by displaying a message box in the display 6' showing the message "User Not Authorized". In such case, since the worker has already taken a tool 4' from the toolbox 1', the problem must be informed to a person having an administrator privilege type.
If the computer 5' finds the user ID in its authorized user database, then it searches the user profile and privileges for said user profile which define the actions he/she is allowed to perform and the user access capabilities, which define the drawer ID to which the user is authorized to access. Once the user has logged in and the privilege type and user access capabilities defined for the user, the information type #3 is recorded in the chips 12 of every tool 4' stored in the drawers 2' of a respective toolbox 1' to which the user has the right to access and subsequently, the computer 5' sends a signal to the correspondent locking and unlocking means 11 of the specific drawers 2' for unlocking the drawers 2' that the user is authorized to access. Also the computer searches in its database for any tools related to the user ID that need to be returned to the toolbox.
Once the recording of the chips 12 ends, each one of the RFID chip interrogators/scanners 13 of each receptacle 3 located in each unlocked drawer 2' begin to interrogate the correspondent tool RFID chip 12 more than one time per second which in the preferred embodiment could be ten times per second, and the Tool ID of each tool 4' is sent to the computer for comparing the list of the Tool ID's detected with a database list of the tool ID's currently assigned to the respective drawers 2' for detecting when a tool 4' is returned to the receptacle 3'. It should be noted that the RFID chip interrogators/scanners 13 can interrogate the RFID chips 12 more than ten times per second.
Then, the display 6' presents a screen displaying the day, date, name of the user and a list of the tools that the user has already taken and that need to be returned.
When the user opens a drawer 2', the correspondent sensor detects the action and sends a signal to the computer 5', which records this information into a log file.

When the user returns a tool 4 to a receptacle 3', the correspondent RFID interrogator/scanner/sensor 13 begins to receive the information of the chip 12 of said tool 4' and when the toolbox's computer 5' compares the list of the tool ID's detected by the interrogators/scanners 13 with the database list of the tools ID's currently assigned to the respective drawers 2', the comparison operation of the tool ID that the user has just returned will succeed and the computer 5' will then acknowledge the returning operation of the specific tool 4'.
It must be noted that the above process takes only a fraction of a second, thus the returning operation is registered in real time by the computer 5'.
The computer 5' further validates that the tool ID of the tool 4' being returned corresponds to one of the tool ID's registered as taken by the specific user. If said validation fails, it means that the specific user is returning a different tool and such event is recorded in the database as explained below.
It must be noted that the above process takes only a fraction of a second.
Once the computer 5' acknowledges the returning operation, the operation is recorded in the database by recording the name of the user, user ID, tool ID
and the hour and date in which the tool has been returned.
The above referred process is repeated each time the user takes a tool 4' from a receptacle 3', and each time the user returns a tool 4' and if the validation process explained above succeeds, the respective tool 4' is deleted from the list of the tools that the user has already taken and that need to be returned showing in the display 6'.
If the user tries to place the tool 4' in a wrong receptacle 3' (pocket), the validation will fail and the computer will present a message in the display alerting of the error and indicating the right pocket 3' where the tool 4' s supposed to be placed back and will not allow the user to logoff until that error is corrected. If the user tries to return a tool 4 that belongs to other user or/and other toolbox 1' (CTK) the system will not allow the user to do it and will not allow he/she to logoff without taking those tools out. Details of the correct user/CTK are presented in the display 6' as well as the location of the tools placed by mistake in the toolbox 1'.
When the user wants to end the returning operation, he/she must close all the drawers 2' and push a button in the computer interface 10 thus indicating that he/she wants to end the returning operation (log out). When the computer 5' receives said instructions it first checks for any open drawer 2' by means of the locking and unlocking means 11 and presents an alert in the display 6' if some of the drawers 2' are not properly closed. When the computer 5' detects that all drawers 2' are closed, it locks all the drawers 2', the screen changes to the welcome screen and the color shade is set to red if it is still at least one tool 4' is missing from the toolbox 1' and presents information about the users owing tools, the number of tools owed by those users and the date/time of the last time those users took tools out of the toolbox, or to the color selected to show that all of the tools have been returned to the toolbox and none of the tools are missing.
But in case a tool is returned by a different user, the computer 5' will register that the user assigned to said tool 4' has not returned the correspondent tool and the problem will be shown by setting the color of the welcome screen to a red shade and presents information about the users owing tools, the number of tools 4' owed by those users and the date/time of the last time those users took tools out of the toolbox. In this screen, any user is allowed to navigate and select any of those users, click a button and see details of tools owed.
The flow chart of figure 6 shows the above described returning operation.
It has to be understood that the order of the steps of the returning operation described above and represented by the flow chart of figure 4', may be changed without altering the functionality of the Item tracking system of the present invention.
Managing of tools needing calibration or unserviceable tools.
If a user finds that one of the tools 4' that he/she has already taken (or during a taken operation) needs service like calibration, needs maintenance is not working properly, or is unserviceable, the user should change the status of said tool or tools by reporting said tool or tools. First, the user will see in the display 6' the list of tools that were taken out by her/him; then, in order to report a tool 4' that needs service, he/she has to select the tool listed on the screen 6' using the physical interface 10 before returning that tool 4' to the pocket 3' (so it is still visible in the screen) and then, once the tool with problems is highlighted, the user should press a special soft button reading "Need Service" and the tool in the screen will change color and will present an special icon indicating that the selected tool status is marked as needing service and then he/she should return the specific tool to its respective receptacle 3' which will erase the tool from the display. The user has to repeat the status change for each one of the tools he/she wants to report as needing service, and to return said tools and log out using the manual interface 10 (pressing a logout soft button). Then the toolbox computer 5' will synchronize the data (which will be explained later) of tools reported as "Need Service" as well as all the activity performed in the toolbox since the last update with the Server System 14 and the server System 14 will send alarms of the tools needing service to the persons and/or emails indicated when configured.
In further taking operations, if a user takes a reported tool as "Need Service", the computer 5' will detect the tool's reported status and will alert the user by means of the display 6' and will not no allow the user to log out taking this tool.
In a preferred embodiment, the toolbox's computer 5' and server system database further includes a "maintenance counter" for specific tools that need a maintenance schedule, which comprises a dynamic record related to said specific tool records representing the number of cycles (i.e. days or times used) that have passed since the last calibration or maintenance and/or a "due maintenance" record, which establishes the number of days in which the tools are scheduled for maintenance and a "details of service required" record which describes the maintenance operations required by the tool. The system will automatically notify by means of an alarm the need of maintenance for specific tools. Said record can be configured whenever a new tool record is added to the toolbox's computer and server system databases. It is possible to configure a tool to receive a maintenance, calibration or service either by number of cycles (i.e. days or times that the tool is used) and/or by number of dates (i.e.
every certain amount of days). If the tool is configured just with one option, the system will send the alarm and present the report when the services is due; but if both options are selected, the system will send the alarm on the date of the event that happens first. It is possible to obtain a report of the tools that will need service in the next days where the number of days can be configured by the user. i.e. if a tool is configured to get service every 180 calendar days or every 100 cycles, and the tools is used 100 cycles before the 180 days, then the system will automatically notify that this tool needs service.
A person having a maintenance privilege (maintenance/calibration/repair/service personnel) can log in the computer 5' with such privilege type and obtain reports of tools currently needing service that have been reported by the users, in need of service in accordance with the maintenance counter, reported by other users as "Need Service", or that would need service in the future and details of service required. Said reports would present the list of tools needing service in that tool box 1', the drawer 2', pocket 3' and reason of the service needed (i.e. period of time, number of cycles or reported by a user of the tool 4').
Based on said reports, the maintenance personnel can perform one or more taking operations of such tool or tools and logoff from the toolbox's computer 5'. Please note that since the privilege type is maintenance, the computer allows said user to logoff after the taking operations of such tools.

During maintenance, the status of such tools change to "in service" and are reported as such in the screen whenever someone obtain an inventory report. It may be noted that whenever one or more tools are out of a toolbox 1' for maintenance, the shade of the welcome screen will be blue (or the color configured by the user to indicate the tool is complete). The toolbox 1' is only considered incomplete if at least one tool is out for any reason different of TDY, out for service or taken out by the administrator for special reason like canceling the tool in that toolbox.
The maintenance personnel can take other tools not listed by the system as needing service and the status of said tools will change indicating that maintenance personnel is taking tools not in need of service for the administrator to accept he/she is taking tools not listed as needing service.
In the Server System 14, the maintenance personnel will see the tools they took or put for Service and he/she will have the privilege to report the type of service provided: Maintenance/Calibration (which will reset the counter for the next maintenance/calibration service) and/or Repair, or Replacement. and finally the maintenance personnel can indicate to the system when every tool is ready for returning to the toolbox 1'.

Then the toolbox's computer 5' will perform a synchronization with the Server system 14 if it is configured to communicate in real time, otherwise the user must perform a manual synchronization using a memory media as will be explained later.
With said synchronization operation, the toolbox computer will be expecting the tools that already were served and will change the status as soon as the maintenance personnel return it into the toolbox 1'.
Once the tools have been properly serviced, the maintenance personnel are ready to login in the correspondent toolbox's computer 5' and perform the necessary returning operations.. After performing the above referred actions the maintenance personnel can logoff of the system.
Managing of critical items (receptacles with more than one tool) A critical Item is a term representing a container 15 having a plurality of tools 16 inside (usually small tools) which do not have an RFID chip individually but having an RFID chip 12 related to the container 16 which is stored in a receptacle 3, thus representing said set of tools 16 inside thereof. When the container 15 s raised by the user for taking a tool from a critical Item by a taking operation, it will be displayed on the display 6' the list of all tools from a critical item present in the container 15 to be taken by the user so he/she could verify that said tools 16 are physically complete.
If a piece of a critical item is missing, the user should contact an administrator and notify for the problem.
When a user is returning a critical item by a returning operation, the computer 5' will present in the display 6' the list of items 16 that should be in the container 15 and that are part of the critical item when the user raise the container 15, and will require any other user to pass her/his id card certifying that all pieces 16 of critical items are complete and then, once another user enters his id, the Critical Item and its respective list of components 16 will disappear from the screen 6' in accordance with the above. If the different user does not validate that all of the tools of a critical item are complete then the user returning the tools will have to cancel logout and then find the tools missing or call the administrator to report the loose.

Functionality of the toolbox's computer.
As previously described, the toolbox's computer 5' may be used by the users and administrators, which have to login in the computer 5' for performing taking operations, returning operations and report operations.
As previously explained, the toolbox's computer database stores all of the respective toolbox's operations, so that it can provide status reports to any user without the need of login in the computer by using the manual interface.
The following are examples of some of the reports that may be obtained from the toolbox's computer:
Tools report: this report shows an inventory all of the tools that are registered in the respective toolbox's database by showing the following information: Tool description, Tool ID, toolbox ID, drawer ID, receptacle ID.
Report of currently taken tools: this report shows all of the tools that have been taken by the users from the respective toolbox 1' by showing the following information: User name, tool description, Tool ID, toolbox ID, drawer ID, receptacle ID, date and time of the taken operation.
Report of the last tools that have been returned: this report shows all of the tools that have been recently returned to the respective toolbox 1' by all of the users before any new taking operation is performed by showing the following information: User name, tool description, Tool ID, toolbox ID, drawer ID, receptacle ID, date and time of the taken operation.
Report of tools having a TDY (Temporary Duty) status: this report show all of the tools assigned to the respective toolbox 1 having a TDY status as explained above. The report shows the following information: User name, Tool description, Tool ID, toolbox ID, drawer ID, receptacle ID, date and time of the change to TDY status (which represent the time and date in which the tool has been taken as a "TDY tool").
Report of unserviceable tools: this report shows all of the tools assigned to the respective toolbox 1' that have been reported as unserviceable by the users by showing the following information: Name of the user who reported, Tool description, Tool ID, toolbox ID, drawer ID, receptacle ID, date and time of the report operation.
Report of tools needing calibration: this report shows all of the tools assigned to the respective toolbox 1 that have been reported as in need of calibration by the users. The report shows the following information: Name of the user who reported, Tool description, Tool ID, toolbox ID, drawer ID, receptacle ID, date and time of the report operation.
Alarm report of missing tools: this report shows all of the tools that haven't been returned to its respective receptacles 3' in the respective toolbox 1' within a specified time frame. The report shows the following information:
Name of the responsible user, Tool description, Tool ID, toolbox ID, drawer ID, receptacle ID, time and date of the taken operation, due date.
Alarm report of inconsistencies: this report shows the tools taken by one user and returned by a different user in the respective toolbox 1'. The report shows the following information: Name of the user that performed the taking operation, Tool description, Tool ID, toolbox ID, drawer ID, receptacle ID, day and date of the taking operation, Name of the user that performed the returning operation, day and date of the returning operation.
Server System functionality.
The Server System 14 may be used only by a person authorized by a person having an administrator profile, which have to login in the Server System 14.
The Server System 14 stores all of the toolboxes 1' operations in its database, so that it can provide status reports to the administrator users about the use of the entire system.
As previously described the server system 14 can be used by an administrator to add new user and to add or modify user profiles.
The administrator can administer user privileges for accessing the functionality available in the Server System 14 to any user selecting the functionality that each user can access for read only or modify privileges, as well the privileges for the users in the toolboxes computers 5'. The administrator can authorize certain users to have certain type of privileges for some toolboxes 1', different privileges in other toolboxes 1' and other privileges in the Server System 14.
When entering a new user for a toolbox 1' in the system (by using the server system 14 after the administrator logs in) the administrator can relate a user with one of the three predetermined user profiles: Administrator, Maintenance personnel or "normal user" of tools, or the administrator can select specific privileges for the specific user. If the selected privileges, match one of the predetermined user profiles, the server system will ask the administrator if he/she wants to relate the user with said predetermined profile or if he/she wants to create said profile.
Also, the server system 14 is able to provide several reports based in the information stored in its database. The following are examples of some of the reports that may be obtained:
Tools report: this report show all of the tools that are registered in the database by showing the following information: Tool description, Tool ID, toolbox ID, drawer ID, receptacle ID.
Report of the inventory on hand on every toolbox 1', on every area (predefined toolbox), in the whole company.
Report of currently taken tools: this report shows all of the tools that have been taken by the users by showing the following information: User name, tool description, Tool ID, toolbox ID, drawer ID, receptacle ID, date and time of the taken operation.
Report of the last tools that have been returned: this report shows all of the tools that have been recently returned by all of the users before any new taking operation is performed by showing the following information: User name, tool description, Tool ID, toolbox ID, drawer ID, receptacle ID, date and time of the taken operation.
Report of tools having a TDY status: this report show all of the tools having a TDY status as explained above. The report shows the following information: User name, Tool description, Tool ID, toolbox ID, drawer ID, receptacle ID, date and time of the change to TDY status (which represent the time and date in which the tool has been taken as a "TDY tool").
Report of unserviceable tools: this report shows all of the tools that have been reported as unserviceable by the users by showing the following information: Name of the user who reported, Tool description, Tool ID, toolbox ID, drawer ID, receptacle ID, date and time of the report operation.
Report of tools needing calibration: this report shows all of the tools that have been reported as in need of calibration by the users. The report shows the following information: Name of the user who reported, Tool description, Tool ID, toolbox ID, drawer ID, receptacle ID, date and time of the report operation.

Alarm report of missing tools: this report shows all of the tools that haven't been returned to its respective receptacles 3 within a specified time frame. The report shows the following information: Name of the responsible user, Tool description, Tool ID, toolbox ID, drawer ID, receptacle ID, time and date of the taken operation, due date.
Alarm report of inconsistencies: this report shows the tools taken by one user and returned by a different user. The report shows the following information: Name of the user that performed the taking operation, Tool description, Tool ID, toolbox ID, drawer ID, receptacle ID, day and date of the taking operation, Name of the user that performed the returning operation, day and date of the returning operation.
The above referred reports may be sent by e-mail, text message, cell phone message, and or pop up window depending on how the system is configured, to one or more administrators or persons configured by the administrator using a connection to the server system 14, and in the case of the alarm reports, these are always sent to the administrators as soon as an alarm report is received by the server system 14 by means of an information exchange operation as will be explained later.
Interchange of information between the toolbox computers and the server system.
It is necessary that the system information stored in the toolboxes computer databases be synchronized with the system information stored in the server system 14. The above may be accomplished by interchanging information by means of Wi-Fi connection (Real time connection), network cabled connection (Real time connection), SD memory cards (manual synchronization), USB memory (manual synchronization) which are well known around the world. All these means of communication are available to the customer and each customer should select and configure his/her preferred means for synchronizing. If the customer selects and configures a Real Time connection, the system will automatically perform a synchronization every time a user login or logout on every toolbox, or every certain amount of time configured by the administrator, what ever happens first. The synchronization is always carried out in both directions (from Server System 14 to the Toolbox's computer 5' and from the Toolbox's computer 5' to the Server System 14) automatically according to a period of time configured.
If the customer selects a manual synchronization, an administrator has to login the toolbox's computer 5', introduce a memory card (not shown) in the computer's memory card reader/writer 8' and select an "Export information"
function in the welcome screen by means of the manual interface 10. Once the user confirms the export operation, the computer 5' exports all of the information stored in its database to the memory card, including alarm reports.
Once the export operation is finished, the computer 5' will alert the user by means of an alert screen and the user log off from said computer 5'. Then the administrator has to take the memory card to the server system 14, login in the server system 14, introduce it to its memory card/reader 17 and select an "Import information" function. Once the user confirms the import operation, the server system 14 imports all of the information stored in the memory card and runs a synchronization program to synchronize the information stored in the memory card with the information stored in its database. Once the synchronization is finished, the server system 14 will alert the user.
In the same way for synchronizing the information stored in the database of a toolbox's computer 5', with current information stored in the server system's database the reverse process should be performed, but by selecting an "import information" option in the welcome screen of the toolbox's computer 5'.
The above referred process should be repeated to synchronize the information stored in the database of each toolbox's computer 5' with the information stored in the server system's database.
It is obvious that the information exchange may be made by any other means different from a memory card, such as by a wireless exchange information system or: network cable, wireless network, or manually through and not limited to USB memory or any other removable/portable memory means and the skilled in the art may suggest the use of any other information exchange method.
Tool usage statistics.
Based on the usage of each tool based on the information stored in the server system's database, the server system 14 can generate a usage statistic report for each tool or a set of tools, including the usage of the tools by tool, toolbox 1', area, branch, global presenting the tools that should be relocated, the tools with low usage, tools with hi usage, tools with high demand including statistics for tools that where required and not present in the toolbox 1' when needed.
In one embodiment of the invention, in order to inform the system about a tool that was needed and not present in the toolbox 1', the user should use the physical user interface 10 of the computer's toolbox 5' in order to obtain a list of tools not present for the drawer currently open and then select the tool that she/he was needing.
Finally it must be understood that the item tracking system of the present invention, is not limited exclusively to the embodiments above described and illustrated and that the persons having ordinary skill in the art can, with the teaching provided by the invention, to make modifications to the item tracking system of the present invention, which will clearly be within of the true inventive concept and of the scope of the invention which is claimed in the following claims.

Claims (12)

WHAT IS CLAIMED IS:
1. An item tracking system for using in a working area having a plurality of storage boxes each having a plurality of drawers each including a plurality of item storage locations, each item storage location comprising an individually shaped recess for receiving a specific item which can be taken or returned, wherein the shape of the recess matches to the shape of the item, wherein the items can be taken and returned to a storage location by means of a taking and returning operation, the item tracking system comprising:
a plurality of user identification means;
the plurality of storage boxes, each having: a computer, including a database, and user identification reader means for reading the user identification means;
a plurality of readable/writable electronic means, each joined to a respective item and having item information;
an external computer system having a database and connected to a computer network, wherein the external computer is capable of interchanging information with each computer of each storage box and vice versa for the synchronizing of information between them, providing reports including information about the items controlled by the system and information about system operations; and a plurality of interrogators/scanners, each located on a respective storage location of a respective drawer of a respective storage box for specifically interrogating/scanning a respective electronic means of one item, each interrogator/scanner being connected to the computer of the respective storage box.
2. The item tracking system of claim 1 wherein said electronic means comprise RFID chips.
3. The item tracking system of claim 1 wherein said interrogators/scanners have the capacity to read from and/or save information into the electronic means of one item.
4. The item tracking system of claim 2 or 3 wherein the computer of each storage box and the external computer control the following system operations:
item taking operations;
item returning operations;
control of items maintenance;
control of multiple items stored in one specific item storage location;
control of item usage;
control of users access privileges; and control of taking and returning operations for items taken by more than one day;
wherein the computer of each storage box is capable of providing reports including information about the items controlled by the system and information about system operations; and wherein the computer of each storage box and the external computer are capable to send reports and alarms to the users relating to items needing maintenance, missing items and inconsistencies, comprising events in which an item is returned by a different user.
5. An item tracking system as claimed in claim 2 or 3, further including a plurality of RFID chip recorders each located on a respective storage location of a respective drawer of a respective storage box for specifically recording a respective RFID chip of one item with item information and time and date information.
6. An item tracking system as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 5, wherein the database of each storage box's computer contains the following information:
users authorized to access each item box, drawers accessible to each user in each item box and privilege type which is selected from the group comprising:
user of items, administrator and maintenance person;
items assigned to the respective storage box represented by the following data: Item description, Item ID, storage box ID, drawer ID, storage location ID;

items taken from the respective storage box, represented by the following data:
user name, privilege type, item description, Item ID, storage box ID, drawer ID, storage location ID, date and time of the taking operation;
items returned to a respective storage box before any new taking operation is performed represented by the following data: User name, privilege type, item description, Item ID, storage box ID, drawer ID, storage location ID, date and time of the returning operation;
item's status, user who changed status, privilege type, Item description, Item ID, storage box ID, drawer ID, storage location ID, status, date and time of the change of status operation.
7. An item tracking system as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 6, wherein each interrogator/scanner interrogates each electronic means at least one time per second.
8. An item tracking system as claimed in claim 1 wherein the external computer system database includes the following information:
items assigned to each storage box;
items taken from each storage box;
items returned to each storage box before any new taking operation is performed;
items taken from more than one day; and item's status.
9. An item tracking system as claimed in claim 1, wherein the external computer system database includes the following information:
information about items assigned to each storage box comprising: Item description, Item ID, storage box ID, and optionally drawer ID, and storage location ID;

information about items taken from each storage box comprising: User name, item description, Item ID, storage box ID, drawer ID, storage location ID, date and time of the taken operation;
information about item items returned to each storage box before any new taking operation is performed comprising: User name, item description, Item ID, storage box ID, drawer ID, storage location ID, date and time of the taken operation;
and item's status comprising: alarm status, user who changed status, Item description, Item ID, storage box ID, drawer ID, storage location ID, status, date and time of the change of status operation.
10. An item tracking system as claimed in claim 1, further including automatic locking and unlocking means for each drawer controlled by the storage box computer each including a sensor for detecting when the drawer is opened or closed.
11. An item tracking method for using with the item tracking system of claim 1 in one or more working areas, each including a plurality of storage areas each storing an item, each item being taken and returned by a plurality of workers, said item tracking system method comprising:
identifying a worker that will take an item from the item's respective storage area or return an item to the respective storage area;
detecting when an item is being taken from the item's respective storage area by the identified worker and registering which item has been taken from which storage area by which worker and when;
detecting when an item is been returned to the respective storage area by the identified worker and registering in memory means which item that has been previously taken by a worker has been returned to the respective storage area and when;
as a worker removes each item from the respective storage area and as the same worker returns each item to the respective storage area, registering that the same worker removed and subsequently returned each item to its respective storage area; and registering information related to: taking and returning item operations for each working area, transaction information comprising information about items that have been taken from the items respective storage area by each identified worker on a specific time and date and/or items that have been returned to the items respective storage area by a worker on a specific time and date.
12. An item tracking system method as claimed in claim 11, further including registering the following information with regard to its respective working area:
information about item maintenance operations;
information about control of multiple items stored in one specific storage area;
information about control of item usage statistics;
information about control of alarms;
information about reports and notifications issued to the workers;
information about worker privileges with regard to the items that the worker is allowed to take and/or return to its respective storage area;
information about user identification means;
information about items taken for a predetermined period of time;
information about each item status;
information about user performance statistics; and information about items assigned to each working area and to each storage location and information about user's access privileges.
CA2669316A 2006-10-13 2007-10-12 Item tracking system Active CA2669316C (en)

Priority Applications (5)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
US11/580,006 2006-10-13
US11/580,006 US7557709B2 (en) 2006-10-13 2006-10-13 Item tracking system
US11/856,869 2007-09-18
US11/856,869 US7932824B2 (en) 2006-10-13 2007-09-18 Item tracking system
PCT/MX2007/000116 WO2008044909A1 (en) 2006-10-13 2007-10-12 Item monitoring system

Publications (2)

Publication Number Publication Date
CA2669316A1 CA2669316A1 (en) 2008-04-17
CA2669316C true CA2669316C (en) 2017-06-27

Family

ID=39283069

Family Applications (1)

Application Number Title Priority Date Filing Date
CA2669316A Active CA2669316C (en) 2006-10-13 2007-10-12 Item tracking system

Country Status (7)

Country Link
US (1) US7932824B2 (en)
EP (1) EP2093726B1 (en)
CA (1) CA2669316C (en)
DK (1) DK2093726T3 (en)
ES (1) ES2510543T3 (en)
PT (1) PT2093726E (en)
WO (1) WO2008044909A1 (en)

Families Citing this family (55)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
WO2005098455A1 (en) * 2004-04-07 2005-10-20 Tecan Trading Ag Device and method for identifying, locating and tracking objects on laboratory equipment
TWI336678B (en) * 2005-02-25 2011-02-01 Murata Machinery Ltd
TW200723153A (en) * 2005-11-18 2007-06-16 Murata Machinery Ltd Storage system
WO2008144126A1 (en) * 2007-05-18 2008-11-27 3M Innovative Properties Company Method for tracking cyclical procedures performed on personal protection equipment
US20090037378A1 (en) * 2007-08-02 2009-02-05 Rockwell Automation Technologies, Inc. Automatic generation of forms based on activity
US8207858B2 (en) * 2007-08-07 2012-06-26 Cooper Technologies Company Monitoring systems and methods for ensuring a proper use of personal protective equipment for potential hazards presented to a person while servicing an electrical power system
JP2009152694A (en) * 2007-12-18 2009-07-09 Oki Data Corp Image processing apparatus
US8630819B2 (en) * 2008-02-18 2014-01-14 The Boeing Company System and method for electronic inspection and record creation of assembly, repair and maintenance operations
US9311767B2 (en) * 2008-03-31 2016-04-12 The Hong Kong Polytechnic University System for storage shelving and methods of use thereof
US9147174B2 (en) * 2008-08-08 2015-09-29 Snap-On Incorporated Image-based inventory control system using advanced image recognition
US9041508B2 (en) * 2008-08-08 2015-05-26 Snap-On Incorporated Image-based inventory control system and method
US8353456B2 (en) * 2008-08-08 2013-01-15 Snap-On Incorporated Image-based inventory control system
US8842183B2 (en) * 2008-08-08 2014-09-23 Snap-On Incorporated Image-based inventory control system with automatic calibration and image correction
US20100179822A1 (en) * 2009-01-14 2010-07-15 Reppas Soterios I System, Method and Device for Tracking Surgical Sponges
US8749347B1 (en) * 2009-01-29 2014-06-10 Bank Of America Corporation Authorized custodian verification
US8502644B1 (en) 2009-01-29 2013-08-06 Bank Of American Corporation Physical item security: tracking device activation
US8020768B2 (en) * 2009-04-01 2011-09-20 RFID Mexico, S.A. DE C.V. Portable container inventory control system
JP2010241580A (en) * 2009-04-09 2010-10-28 Hitachi Ltd Configuration information complementing traceability system
US9189769B2 (en) 2009-12-07 2015-11-17 Meps Real-Time, Inc. Real-time inventory re-supply system
JP5563842B2 (en) * 2010-02-08 2014-07-30 フェリカネットワークス株式会社 Mobile terminal, information transmission / reception method, server device, reader / writer, and member privilege acquisition system
JP2013519177A (en) 2010-02-09 2013-05-23 エムイーピーエス、リアル‐タイム、インコーポレイテッドMeps Real−Time, Inc. Built-in RFID usable drawer module
GB2480322B (en) * 2010-05-14 2013-04-24 Tool Control Systems Ltd Inventory storage apparatus and inventory item verification process
US9083561B2 (en) 2010-10-06 2015-07-14 At&T Intellectual Property I, L.P. Automated assistance for customer care chats
US20120095961A1 (en) * 2010-10-15 2012-04-19 Myers Tire Supply International, Inc. Tool tracking system and method
EP2458531A1 (en) * 2010-11-25 2012-05-30 9Solutions Oy Asset control in location tracking system
AT510833B1 (en) * 2010-11-25 2012-10-15 Werkzeug Vertriebsgmbh Nfg Kg Ordering system for tools, machine parts and dgl.
US9694488B2 (en) * 2010-12-08 2017-07-04 Apex Industrial Technologies Llc Direct access dispensing system
US20120306623A1 (en) * 2010-12-30 2012-12-06 Corbin Will H System and method for automated monitoring of students' work in an educational environment
US20120169471A1 (en) * 2010-12-30 2012-07-05 Corbin Will H System and method for automated monitoring of students' work in an educational environment
US20120262292A1 (en) * 2011-04-14 2012-10-18 Martin Moser Portable device inventory tracking
CN102791015B (en) * 2011-05-20 2016-04-13 赛恩倍吉科技顾问(深圳)有限公司 The base station apparatus, radio communication system and method
US9189663B2 (en) 2011-12-02 2015-11-17 The Stanley Works Israel, Ltd Battery operated device and tag for a battery operated tool
CA2861660A1 (en) 2012-01-08 2013-07-11 Imagistar Llc System and method for item self-assessment as being extant or displaced
US8776644B2 (en) 2012-01-23 2014-07-15 Stanley Black & Decker, Inc. Electronic identifier attachment for inventory items
US8870078B2 (en) 2012-02-08 2014-10-28 Stanley Black & Decker, Inc. Hand tool having an electronic identification device
AT512558B1 (en) * 2012-02-17 2014-06-15 Werkzeug Vertriebsgmbh Nfg Kg Arrangement at assembly places
AT513235A1 (en) * 2012-06-18 2014-02-15 Kurt Dipl Ing Ogris Device and method for securing documents
US9089952B2 (en) 2012-08-14 2015-07-28 Stanley Black & Decker, Inc. Electronic identifier attachments for bits
AT13472U1 (en) * 2012-10-25 2014-01-15 Fmtec Gmbh Container for transporting and / or storing one or more items
US9452330B2 (en) * 2013-01-11 2016-09-27 Tag Golf, Llc Golf club grip with user notification and tracking capability
US9721224B2 (en) 2013-03-14 2017-08-01 Coreorient Oy System and method for managing transportation and storage of goods
ITNA20130017A1 (en) * 2013-03-28 2014-09-29 Kiranet Srl Mechatronic system for the control of stored objects radiofrenquenza
CA2918446A1 (en) * 2013-08-02 2015-02-05 The Legacy Chip Corporation Method and system for storing information related to an object
JP6250464B2 (en) * 2014-04-18 2017-12-20 東芝テック株式会社 Reading apparatus and program
US10147236B2 (en) * 2014-12-15 2018-12-04 Autodesk, Inc. Smart tools and workspaces for do-it-yourself tasks
SE1451670A1 (en) 2014-12-30 2016-05-10 Swedstyle Ab Electrical locking of furniture and storage
EP3241160A1 (en) 2015-04-15 2017-11-08 Snap-on Incorporated Automated asset management system with multiple sensing technologies
EP3168012A3 (en) * 2015-11-02 2017-07-26 TRL Enterprises LLC Tool management system
EP3417407A1 (en) * 2016-02-16 2018-12-26 Sato Holdings Kabushiki Kaisha An inventory control system and a method of controlling inventory
DE102016210761A1 (en) * 2016-06-16 2017-12-21 Robert Bosch Gmbh A method for guiding an operator to a hand tool device
JP2017228140A (en) * 2016-06-23 2017-12-28 東芝テック株式会社 Reading device and program
DE102016217897A1 (en) * 2016-09-19 2018-03-22 Robert Bosch Gmbh Storage device for hand tool machines, associated tools and accessories with functions
AU2017339432A1 (en) * 2016-10-03 2019-01-31 Snap-On Incorporated Rechargeable tool and battery status monitoring in an automated tool control system
US9938693B1 (en) * 2016-12-15 2018-04-10 Caterpillar Inc. Asset tracking and work tool identification
US10264158B1 (en) * 2017-12-01 2019-04-16 Lexmark International, Inc. Method for retiring RFID copy sheets

Family Cites Families (10)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US4845492A (en) * 1984-12-10 1989-07-04 Richard G. Cobb Article monitoring system with printing capability
EP1112558A4 (en) 1998-09-11 2002-07-31 Key Trak Inc Object tracking system with non-contact object detection and identification
US6812838B1 (en) * 2001-04-26 2004-11-02 Key-Trak, Inc. Key control system using separate ID and location detection mechanisms
US20020158761A1 (en) * 2001-04-27 2002-10-31 Larry Runyon Radio frequency personnel alerting security system and method
US20030117281A1 (en) * 2001-12-21 2003-06-26 Timur Sriharto Dynamic control containment unit
US6737961B2 (en) * 2002-08-14 2004-05-18 Omega Patents, L.L.C. Secure, vehicle key, storage device and associated method
JP3565217B2 (en) * 2002-10-29 2004-09-15 オムロン株式会社 Article management system, a contactless electronic tag, and the article management program
EP1663586B1 (en) 2003-09-17 2008-09-10 Coplan Limited Inventory control system
US6989749B2 (en) * 2003-11-21 2006-01-24 The United States Of America As Represented By The Secretary Of The Navy Electronic check out system
US7489242B2 (en) * 2004-07-13 2009-02-10 Tony Hines RFID multiple range method and system

Also Published As

Publication number Publication date
PT2093726E (en) 2014-10-13
ES2510543T3 (en) 2014-10-21
US7932824B2 (en) 2011-04-26
CA2669316A1 (en) 2008-04-17
EP2093726A1 (en) 2009-08-26
WO2008044909A1 (en) 2008-04-17
DK2093726T3 (en) 2014-10-06
EP2093726A4 (en) 2010-06-02
EP2093726B1 (en) 2014-07-02
US20080088454A1 (en) 2008-04-17

Similar Documents

Publication Publication Date Title
US6694221B2 (en) Controlled inventory device and method using pressure transducer
AU2005269619B2 (en) RFID cabinet
US7047159B2 (en) Component tagging with maintenance related information including maintenance procedures
US8866615B2 (en) Method and apparatus for tracking objects and people
US10347374B2 (en) Medication preparation system
US7487182B2 (en) Systems and methods for managing the development and manufacturing of a drug
US9760075B2 (en) Location dependent control access in a process control system
US7694876B2 (en) Method and system for tracking user performance
US7479875B2 (en) Method of and system for managing data in a sensor network
US10275571B2 (en) Distributed remote asset and medication management drug delivery system
CA2650956C (en) Stock monitoring
US7530113B2 (en) Security system and method for an industrial automation system
US7145457B2 (en) Integrated visualization of security information for an individual
US7278579B2 (en) Patient information management system
JP2013505179A (en) Inventory monitoring confirmation system
JP5309047B2 (en) System and method for visualizing Auto-ID data
US20040133705A1 (en) Controller for dispensing products
US7366681B2 (en) System, method, and computer program for managing storage distribution of money tills
US6708879B2 (en) Automated unmanned rental system and method
US20060282191A1 (en) System and method for determining worker productivity
US7474330B2 (en) System and method for integrating and characterizing data from multiple electronic systems
RU2271517C2 (en) Device for recording parameters of process
JP2012533118A (en) Automated medical article removal / storage tracking method and apparatus
JP6490587B2 (en) Storage cabinet with multiple RFID readers
US8094020B2 (en) Data center server location and monitoring system

Legal Events

Date Code Title Description
EEER Examination request